Will Anything Change?

From “Edward Snowden’s nightmare comes true,” Philip Ewing, Politico:

“Snowden’s worst fear, by his own account, was that ‘nothing will change.’

“One month after the Guardian’s first story…there has been no public movement in Washington to stop the [FISA] court from issuing another such order.  Congress has no intelligence reform bill that wold rein in the phone-tracking, or Internet monitoring, or cyberattack-planning, or any of the other secret government workings that Snowden’s disclosures have revealed.

“There is no modern-day Sen. Frank Church ready to convene historic hearings about the intelligence community….  Far from having been surprised by Snowden’s disclosures, today’s intelligence committee leaders stepped right up to defend the NSA’s surveillance programs.  From Republicans, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, to Democrats, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, they’ve been nearly unanimous in their support.”

“One of the things for people who obsess about this stuff, like I do, is we don’t know what we’re buying and we don’t know what we’re paying for this service,” [University of Southern California law professor Jack] Lerner said.  We’re paying with our privacy, and we had a sense that we’re not paying very much…but we’re learning that maybe there is a cost, and maybe the cost is more than we thought it was.”

My strong sense at this point, with a lot more still to learn, is that we have gone overboard in the name of security at the expense of privacy.  We need a Frank Church to get us back in balance.

How to Deal with Snowden

From “Edward Snowden:  a whistleblower, not a spy,” Editorial from The Guardian:

“Mr Snowden is clear that he leaked his information in order to alert the world to the unprecedented and industrial scale of NSA and GCHQ secret data trawling. He did not, he insists, leak in order to damage the US, its interests or its citizens, including those citizens in harm’s way. Nothing of this sort has been published. Nor should it be. As long as he remains in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, however, the real issue remains clouded. This damages Mr Snowden’s cause, which this newspaper supports. He should therefore leave Russia as soon as he practically can.

“The United States is deliberately not making this as easy as it could. Mr Snowden has always accepted that he will have to face the music for what he has done. This is likely to happen sooner or later. But it needs to happen in a way which respects Mr Snowden’s rights, and civilian status, and which, above all, also recognises the high public seriousness of what he has decided to do. His welfare matters. It is wrong to acknowledge that there should be a proper debate about data trawling and secret internet surveillance – a debate that could not have started without Mr Snowden – and simultaneously to treat him as a spy in the old cold war sense. Too many US politicians and government officials are doing so.

“This is emphatically not a cold war style national security case; it is a 21st century case about the appropriate balance between the power of the secret state and the rights of free citizens in the internet era. To charge Mr Snowden under America’s first world war Espionage Act is inappropriate. We live in a different world from that. America is not at war in the traditional sense. Mr Snowden is not a spy. Nor is he a foreign agent. He is a whistleblower. He has published government information. And it is as a whistleblower that he will eventually have to answer to the law.

“Any charges against him should be ones to which it is possible to mount a public interest defence, of the sort that was mounted by Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case in the US, or in Britain by the former civil servant Clive Ponting after the Falklands war. It must be for a civilian jury to decide whether Mr Snowden’s actions are more troubling and significant than the documents and practices which he has exposed. Mr Snowden must be able to come in from the cold. And America must do more to help make that happen.”

Snowden to Putin: Never Mind

Edward Snowden has withdrawn his request for asylum in Russia, after Putin said he could stay only if he stopped leaking (except, of course, to Putin’s FSB).   On the other hand, Putin won’t turn him over to the U. S.

Snowden has reached out to about 20 other countries.  No takers, so far.  Some of those countries will consider a request only if you are already on their soil.

If Snowden had a plan when he fled to Hong Kong, it wasn’t a very good one.

Snowden to Venezuela?

It’s looking more and more unlikely that Edward Snowden will go to Ecuador, but Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is headed to Russia for a visit, and there are rumors that he may take Snowden back with him.

Snowden has been staying at hotels near the Moscow airport, he’s not stuck in a plastic seat in the transit area lounge.

Snowden Stuck

Edward Snowden is still at the airport in Moscow and doesn’t seem about to leave any time soon.

Ecuador says their decision on granting him asylum could take two months, which is how long it took them to decide on Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, who lives at the Ecuador Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Ecuador says they could protect Snowden sooner if he got to their embassy in Moscow, but Russia won’t let him leave the transit area of the airport because he doesn’t have a visa to enter Russia.

Meanwhile, the U. S. is still trying to convince the Russians to turn Snowden over.

Putin Won’t Hand Snowden Over

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Edward Snowden is free to go.  I would describe Putin’s mood as gleeful.  Since Snowden is at the Moscow airport and hasn’t gone through passport control, Putin doesn’t feel that he’s entered Russian territory, but is “in transit.”   Anybody think the Moscow airport isn’t Russian territory?

The U. S. and Russia don’t have an extradition treaty.

Supposedly, negotiations are continuing.  I assume the U. S. knows that Putin likes sports jewelry, preferably championship rings he “can kill someone with.”